An Overview of Daniel

By | February 6, 2016

A Focus on Daniel

Daniel served God as an exile in Babylon from roughly 605 to 536 B.C. (cf. 1:1–6; 10:1). He was taken in the first of three deportations by Babylon, the last being in 586 B.C. (cf. 2 Kgs 24:8–20; 25:1–7).

1:1–2:4a and 8–12 are written in Hebrew, and the focus of these portions are for Hebrews. 2:4b–7:28 is written in Aramaic, the Gentile language of the day, and the focus is for Gentiles. After telling his own history (1:1–21), Daniel recorded a dream of Nebuchadnezzar (2:1–23), the story surrounding the statue of Nebuchadnezzar (3:1–30), and another dream by Nebuchadnezzar and its fulfillment (4:1–37). Belshazzar then saw the writing on the wall, which indicated his death (5:1–31). Daniel then survived the lion’s den, the result of Darius’s decree (6:1–28). Ending his section on the gentiles, he saw a vision of four beasts and gave its interpretation (7:1–28). Three visions end Daniel’s book: the ram and the goat (8:1–27); the seventy “sevens” (9:1–27); and the battles of the kings and the end (10:1–12:13).

Daniel within the Bible

Daniel’s story gives a detailed glimpse of one of the exiles taken from Judah as told in the end of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. His life certainly assumes the theology of the OT written up to that point.

In the NT, Jesus cited and echoed Daniel in His prophecy of the end (Matt 24:15) and often spoke of Himself as “the Son of Man,” a title that stems from Dan 7:13–14. The book of Revelation echoes Daniel several times (e.g., Rev 1:7, 13; 13:1–10; 14:14) and, as did Jesus, follows Daniel’s timeline of events for the end this age (Dan 9:24–27; cf. Rev 11:2–3; 12:6; 13:5).

Recommended Reading

For further study of the book as a whole, see the introduction for the book above in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985). For a brief overview of the use of the above book in the Bible as a whole, see the entry for the book above in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, edited by T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000).